Most of us have become familiar with the concept of having ads on devices tailored to our algorithm-ed interests, however, should we now ready ourselves for the same advertising personalisation to enter our TV watching world?

I’m not talking about paid-for slots shown during traditional ad breaks (although it’s likely that’s on the cards), but product placement or promotion screened during the films or programmes themselves. With the popularity of Netflix and other streaming platforms increasing, the options to investigate new revenue building opportunities are surely going to be on the table; and from what we understand, the products ‘advertised’ during programmes will depend on who’s watching.

How’s that?

Well, it’s been suggested that streaming services will use the information they have on their customers from internet searches and such, to create targeted versions of product placement. So, in a similar vein to targeted ads on our phones, streaming services will consider viewers’ online footprints and show them products of interest accordingly. Say a viewer’s data suggests they frequently search for clothes; a background billboard poster that’s part of the programme’s set could advertise a suitable brand. Whilst a sportswear enthusiast watching the identical scene might see a push for trainers in the same billboard frame. Brand names could also be mentioned by actors, or different physical products could be reached for in a kitchen scene, depending on whether it’s closer to breakfast or dinner time when the viewer is watching.

It could be said that this tech driven product placement (which might start within a year) is controversial, however is it not also a logical step?

These days, do children still want to stay up to watch the adverts on television to prolong an evening’s entertainment? Wouldn’t they rather have five more minutes on a device (with the targeted ads reaching them that way)? And what about the adult audience? Wouldn’t most of us prefer to skip the TV adverts completely – unless of course they present a convenient opportunity to put the kettle on or nip to the loo?
Even if what I’m saying is true, commerce of all kinds still needs promoting, which means advertising (though all manner of alternative devices and routes) remains big business. And while we may have become preconditioned to switch off (in one form or another) from generic TV advertising, perhaps a well-constructed, targeted version could prove less annoying and therefore more effective.
Afterall, in this day and age there’s no reason for us to all see the same adverts when we watch television. While the concept of targeted TV advertising initially sounds intrusive, perhaps the other side of the coin is that it might make more sense. We’re not simply going to stop watching a programme we’re enjoying because of personalised product placement. The product will likely just enter our subconscious surreptitiously, build on a brand and do exactly what the advertiser intended, just as a tailored billboard would – and perhaps in a more effective way.
It could very well be the future; and other advertising advances are also being explored. Hulu, a platform controlled by the Walt Disney Company is feeling its way by making ads appear when a viewer pushes the pause button; whilst Walmart-owned streaming service Vudu has enabled ‘shoppable ads’ on internet-connected televisions that allow customers to put advertised products into their Walmart.com basket. Meanwhile, on the Roku streaming channel, viewers can click on certain commercials to request an email or text with details about the product on display.
Only time will tell if personalised or virtual product placements will catch on and demonstrate themselves to be worthwhile to advertisers without aggravating viewers. It’ll be interesting to see how the concept rolls and if it does indeed shape the future of TV advertising as we know it.
Contact our Digital Department for more information. 

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